Women’s leadership significantly contributes to building high-performing organizations. However, challenges with balancing work and family responsibilities are inhibiting them from exerting their fullest potential towards this end. This study aims at investigating the challenges women leaders in Addis Ababa face in balancing the demands of their organizations with that of their families. A sample of eight women leaders of positions from large and middle scale organizations were taken using a purposive sampling technique. In-depth interviews were used to gather information for the study, and a phenomenological qualitative study was applied to analyze the data. The study identified some organizational, societal, and individual factors that challenge women leaders in balancing their work and family responsibilities. Work overload, cultural and social norms, family responsibilities, and upbringing related behaviors of the interviewees themselves were among the major challenges in maintaining their work-family balance. This study contributes insights into work-family balance theory and practice, by presenting women leaders’ voices about their work-life challenges as expressed in their own words, from their own testimonies. It indicates that much needs to be done on the part of organizations, society, family, and women themselves for women leaders to have the desired level of work-family balance.

Author Biography

Biruktawit Bahiru currently works as a Senior Human Resource Officer. She obtained her MA degree in Leadership and Management from Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology. She has BA degree in Business Administration and Management from Addis Ababa University.

Abeba Beyene (PhD) is a senior academic staff member at Addis Ababa University School of Commerce. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Business Administration and Information Systems involved in teaching, advising, and examining Master’s level students, and provides training and consultancy services to organizations. Her research passion is particularly targeted to work-life balance and leadership. She obtained her PhD in 2015 after successfully defending her dissertation on “Developing and Testing a Model of Work-Family Balance in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian: Implications for Job Satisfaction, Turnover Intentions and Actual Turnover” under the supervision of Prof. Jenny Hoobler and Dr. Worku Mekonnen. Her dissertation is believed to be the pioneer scientific work-family/Life balance research in the Ethiopian context.